Today’s consumers have an abundance of options when it comes to purchasing products. In the past decade, the number of online shoppers has increased tremendously and almost half (45%) of consumers now browse Amazon first when looking for a specific product according to a recent survey by inRiver.
Although that is good news for many retailers, there is another side to this equation; the rate at which consumers are returning online purchases has increased as well, causing loss in margins for brands and a poor customer experience for shoppers.
Given the data around the significant numbers of online browsers and buyers, what can retailers do to reduce staggering number of returns that are impacting margins?
Fast Access to Product Information:
Online shoppers want information fast. Consumers are easily discouraged when seeking to purchase if the product information they require is not found quickly or available at all.
How fast do shoppers want their information? In 10 seconds or less. The good news is that 41% of online shoppers won’t consult another online store if all the information they need is provided in the first shop they visit.
But one third (31%) of shoppers will move to another website within 10 seconds if general product information is lacking. The most commonly searched for information is price comparisons (74%), general product information like fabric or ingredients (41%) and reviews (58%).
Knowing your customer preferences is the key starting point when marketing products correctly online. One third (33%) of study respondents say videos that show products in different contexts are most helpful in their buying decision. Additionally, almost one fifth (18%) of respondents want to see products demonstrated by influencers.
Creating videos to showcase product information is helpful, but brands need to know what platforms are preferred by their shoppers too, otherwise, they miss the mark. According to the study, YouTube and Facebook were ranked as two of the most trusted platforms that provide video information about products.
Providing product information across a variety of formats like reviews, descriptions, or videos is important in turning browsers into buyers. While this is great news for brands that shoppers appreciate multiple sources of information, it makes it challenging to deliver consistent, omnichannel product information without a product information management (PIM) solution. Marketing, product, and merchandising teams struggle to create and maintain relevant product information in one channel or format, let alone multiple channels and formats.
Reducing Return Rates
Product data needs to be accurate, detailed, and consistent. That’s not an insignificant task. How to best do this? Make sure to align your product information with your customers’ expectations. Products that do not meet customer expectations are often returned. In fact, 22% of consumers say the products that they buy online rarely meet their expectations, and nearly half usually or always return items (48%).
Providing products with limited pictures and videos does not make the online shopping experience exciting or engaging. What are shoppers looking for in terms of product information? Details, zoom capabilities to see close up, 360-degree views of products, dimensions, ingredients, and context of how the product or item can be used or bundled. If you are not doing that today, it is likely that product gets returned for not meeting expectations and that impacts the customer experience.
When return rates reach a critical mass, it impacts margins and reduces overall revenues. How much do returns impact business? For some of the UK’s largest retailers, the cost of servicing returns has spiraled to almost £60bn a year. That is never a good thing for even the most customer-focused brands. Revenue matters.
To ensure you deliver the types of product information and content browsers seek before becoming buyers, find out what is most important to them. Learn how to create compelling and consistent product that your shoppers can easily find and what it takes to avoid the margin-draining returns via the Turning Browsers into Buyers report here.
Every marketer, product manager or merchandiser seeks to create compelling content that converts browsers into buyers. It is the way business, especially e-commerce is done today. The problem is that there is a lot of competition between retailers and lots of content that needs to be shared across a growing number of channels. So, how does an e-commerce organization make their products stand out from the crowd?
The power of compelling content is not just the words we use to describe a product. It is everything from images (don’t think that stock or ordinary product images will do), to detailed descriptions that include where a fabric is manufactured or what type of wood a bed frame is sourced from, to the distribution of that vital information systematically across channels. There is a lot to get done to get a product to market and without a process, it can get complicated. Fast.
3 essentials for product content that drive conversions
Build a process: Any business that sells multiple products across a variety of channels needs to have a solid, well-documented process. Large e-commerce companies manage hundreds of thousands of products globally. Imagine trying to update spreadsheets for even 100 different products across departments or teams each time a new update to your product is released. If a process isn’t documented and a technology solution is not in place to enable the process, it will not scale.
Not only will it not scale, but a poor customer experience is the kiss of death for e-commerce. It’s hard enough to be found by a buyer, but nearly impossible to drive conversions if the buying process isn’t easy, or product information is inconsistent or even slow to load on a page. A perfect product process lets an organization and its team control the quality of content available to buyers in a repeatable, predictable way.
Process and technology go hand-in-hand and for e-commerce teams, the technology that supports product content is a product information management (PIM) solution. Learn more about the inRiver PIM solution here for global brands.
Images: According a the article, The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Ecommerce Conversion Rates, by CXL, quality images are the number one thing that helps sell product online. Why? They tell the story of the product and how powerful images can be. See the example from Ties.com below from the CXL post.
What is important to remember about images it to think beyond typical product images. Think close-ups, 360-degree, in context (shop the look) or even next to a similar or like product to show color differences or size comparisons. Image quality, resolution and composition of the images matter too, of course.
Personalization: The finest e-commerce companies in the world are experts at using personalization. That means you need to be too. Nothing ruins the customer experience faster than spending time to put in personal information, email address or a loyalty number only to be shown content or offers that aren’t relevant. A lack of personalization in content leaves consumers feeling like they don’t matter ,and that means they are likely to take their business elsewhere. And that impacts revenue.
According to the Monetate Ultimate Customer Experience Infographic, 89% of consumers leave a brand for the competition after a negative customer experience. Brand loyalty matters for e-commerce brands as customer acquisition costs are high. Keeping valuable customers happy and turning them into advocates for your brand is a significant strategy that increases revenue. It is another benefit that stems from personalization of content.
Modern marketers use a mix of technology, process, and best practices to deliver the best customer experience possible to engage online buyers. What drives conversions online and across channels today is personalized, well produced and delivered product content. Remember, content is more than just the words; it’s the whole experience that consumers remember.
Learn more about how to create product content that converts and download the “4 Steps to High-Quality Content for Omnichannel Success.”
Delivering a positive customer experience (CX) is something every e-commerce team and marketer is responsible for. Today’s organizations will not survive the fierce competition they face without focusing on customer experience across all aspects of their business, not just marketing.
According to a recent article in Shopify, CX as it relates to e-commerce is, “Providing an exceptional ecommerce customer experience involves creating relevant, meaningful, and memorable events for customers which in turn, translate into increased brand loyalty and positive brand favorability.”
That sounds about right.
Why has CX become such a big deal lately? Don’t all organizations want to ensure their customers have great experiences? Yes and no. Driving CX means committing and understanding that the “experience” needs to be planned for and executed from early on in product development to marketing to sales to post-sales support and even to the packaging and delivery of a product. Customer experience today is a holistic understanding of how to engage the customer from well before the sale to well after the sale into advocacy and brand loyalty. And the brands that are achieving this are seeing big gains in revenue.
How much revenue? Data from the Forrester indicates that improving CX increases profitability at a rate of 5.1 times more than that of laggards. In addition, CX helps not only improves top-line revenue but bottom-line as well with lower customer and employee acquisition costs and a lower cost to service customers. That equates to big dollars for even a small e-commerce company.
How should e-commerce organizations think about improving customer experience? Bake it into everything and always focus on the improving the actual customer experience, not just being able to connect with customers in more ways.
They are not the same thing.
“CX is about delivering on the brand promise,” said Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of VisumCX, a customer experience strategy firm. “Too often we look at CX from our own departments instead of from the customer’s perspective.”
This is in fact, one of the biggest challenges for companies that try to focus on CX. Simply connecting across more channels isn’t necessarily improving the experience for the customer. In fact, it could be having the opposite effect if the content or engagement isn’t relevant or personalized based on their needs.
E-commerce organizations and their teams can differentiate themselves from the competition by focusing on the elements of CX holistically, not just at certain points, and working to incorporate them throughout the customer journey.